THAT TITANIC MOMENT
The hurt is deep. A number of studies seem to indicate the organised Indian tourism industry has already lost around INR 5 lakh crore. Tour operators and agencies must be bearing the brunt of INR 35,000 crore and hotels have suffered a decline of revenue to the tune of a whopping 80 per cent.
This was apparently before the second phase of the scourge from Wuhan wreaked havoc across the nation.
Everyone knows life is not the same anymore. That it will further undergo more drastic changes is a foregone conclusion. How will the coming months (and years) change the structure of travel and tourism demand and supply is still unsure. The mist on the repercussions it will have on the economy might lift much later. Yet even before alternative approaches and strategies are considered there is an unknown factor to consider. How will the travelling clientele behave? Pundits on industry boards can prophesise till the cows come home, but the virus and its trajectory will dictate the course for the future. No one else. The litany so far was the absence of government support to the industry. It is fast turning into what next best by way of options, alternatives and businesses?
What started as policy interventions needed to help maintain workforce has rapidly morphed into urgency for a drastic reinvention, recovery, and total salvage of the Titanic.
The chatterati of the travel business might survive the blow. Pontifications and seminar circuit opinions and advice are all good. However, the astonishing and unfortunate obliteration of a huge percentage of unorganised travel businesses has not even been registered. A cursory tabulation of the distress of those in the ‘organised’ list will suffice to warn of the extent of the disaster.
It is a war and it’s all hands on the deck. There is no space for the moaners or the I-told-you-so’s. In the usual sophistry of words, what shouldn’t be lost is the dire need to reach out to the one clambering on the rung below the ladder.
Oxygen cylinders stacked in houses of the healthy need to be released for those who need it. In other words, the time is to put the money where the mouth is.
Oddly, none of the august bodies have embarked on any such attempt. Or did we miss something?
The views expressed in the column are of the author, and may or may not be endorsed by the publication.